Rotorua Weekender: Conservation Week 2015

Friday, November 6, 2015

This week was Conservation Week and this year we've gone down a different track. The theme is Healthy Nature Healthy People. It’s about the connection between human health and wellbeing, and nature.

We are lucky in Rotorua to have a rich and varied landscape that’s one of a kind. But to truly appreciate New Zealand’s natural beauty, you have to check it out for yourself. Our country is best viewed on foot or from a bike – getting active and getting out there in our parks is the way to go.

There’s never been a better time to get involved in conservation. We're surrounded by DoC reserves and camp grounds and have more than our fair share of nature walks and beauty spots. There are many local groups who help out - from the Lions and Rotary Clubs who do riparian and native tree planting to the volunteers of the Mt Ngongotaha Bush Restoration Trust.  The Rotorua Anglers Club and Deerstalkers also pitch in - conservation is a big part of who we are in the Bay of Plenty.

In fact three local tourism providers ran public Conservation Week events, while a number of other businesses offered prizes and sponsorship. Well done to River Rats, Canopy Tours and the Blue Lake Top 10 Holiday Park for getting involved.

The Government’s conservation efforts to better preserve our landscape and national parks has targeted native flora and fauna.

DoC’s Community Conservation Partnerships Fund has strengthened community group efforts to halt the spread of wilding pines, preserve endangered fish species, eradicate pests and weeds in the Rotoehu and Tarawera areas and restore whitebait numbers and habitat around the country.

Earlier this year we launched the War on Weeds, a nationwide effort focused on the “Dirty Dozen” – 12 common weeds causing problems throughout the country. It’s estimated the agricultural sector is around $1.2 billion a year out of pocket because of the damage these weeds cause.

Last year we also began the Battle for our Birds, an eight-month anti-predator campaign to protect our most vulnerable native bird species. The campaign was a huge success. More than 600,000 hectares of conservation estate was covered, and field monitoring showed rat and stoat numbers fell to almost undetectable levels at many sites.

We all play a caretaker role in preserving New Zealand’s landscape. It’s vital that we enjoy it and make sure it retains its natural beauty for generations to come.